[EDWARD, PRINCE OF WALES, 1894-1972)
An archive of private photographs documenting the visit of HRH Edward, Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) to Australia and New Zealand in 1920, annotated by the Prince himself and originally forming part of his correspondence with his mistress, Freda Dudley Ward.
Group of 18 black and white photographs taken by various photographers in the Prince’s entourage during his Australasian tour in 1920, different formats to 155 x 110 mm; most are annotated verso in pencil in Edward’s own hand; one, of the Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes, bears a deprecatory caption in ink recto; the group is unmounted and very well preserved.
These significant photographs were originally enclosed in different letters that formed part of Edward’s correspondence with his mistress, Freda Dudley Ward, between 1918 and 1921. The Prince’s manuscript captions were written exclusively for her benefit.
In 1920 HRH Edward, Prince of Wales – the future Edward VIII, who would controversially abdicate in order to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson – visited Australia and New Zealand during his Royal Tour on board HMS Renown. Edward’s letters to his mistress, Freda Dudley Ward, to whom he wrote regularly and longingly in his extended absence, have been published in Letters from a prince : Edward, Prince of Wales to Mrs Freda Dudley Ward, March 1918 – January 1921, edited by Rupert Godfrey (London : Little, Brown and Company, 1998). We have included an image of another of Edward’s annotated photographs sent to Freda (ibid. p.174) which shows that the handwriting on the present group is indeed that of Edward, Prince of Wales.
The subject matter covered in this small group of photographs includes various events on the Prince’s Australasian itinerary. His annotations reveal his general ennui, disdain for ceremony, and probably a complete lack of suitability to the future role of monarch. His passion for horseracing is made evident from the shots of him taken at Ascot Races in Brisbane (where he broke a track racing record) and at Riccarton Races, Christchurch. He is also shown participating in a rugby match at Jervis Bay. But undoubtedly the most noteworthy images are the two shots that show him meeting Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes, of whom the Prince had a very low opinion. One rudely shows only the back of Hughes, dismissing him as a person of absolutely no consequence or standing, and the other mocks Hughes with a deliberate and sarcastic misspelling of his name. In the Prince’s letter which originally accompanied the two latter photos, Edward wrote from Government House, Melbourne on 27 May 1920: ‘Fredie darling no words of mine could ever describe to you the pompousness & state of my landing or my first official progress through this city (the capital) to the “palace”! Vast carriages drawn by 4 horses were provided for us & after being received by Ferguson (the G.G.) & hundreds of other bearded old men, we drove solemnly for 2 hrs through the streets in cocked hats till I thought I would die!’ (ibid. p.309).